Spiritual Diary:  India
 
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu:  Oct 2004 to March 2005
Six-Month Yoga Teachers’ Training Course

The purpose of this final report is to use my journal entries as a tool for swadyaya (self study).  During my time at the Ashram, I have gone through both physical and emotional cleansing, which I was really ready for.  It occurred to me that now is the time for me to think about the changes that have occurred since being at the Ashram.  Upon my return home, and settling back into a busy regular life, I will not have the time to do it, and making sense of my scribbles will be more difficult as time goes by. 


And so the journey begins…


Monday, October 11th, 2004

Today I was asked to help Robert clean the terrace on the roof where we have our Hatha Yoga class.  I had no objection to this except for the fact that I was directly in the sun, the floor scorching my feet, and the rays were burning the back of my neck, my face and my arms.  We were in the sun for about 45 minutes.  But even at this time of the morning it was too much for me.  My face was beat red, and my arms still burned in the afternoon.  I found myself angry that they asked me to do this duty in the sun, as I deliberately mentioned to Amma that I couldn’t handle too much sun.  Why do they bother asking us questions if they don’t pay any attention to them?  I can say to myself that I can do this duty and that the sun won’t hurt me however, there are some laws that you just can’t escape, no matter how much your mind tries to convince yourself otherwise.  If I tell myself that the drink is not poison even if it is, and I drink the poison, chances are that I will die.  I found myself getting angrier in Pranayama class, I was experiencing a complete Pitta overload.  Bhujangini Mudra didn’t help.  Instead of expressing myself in an appropriate manner, I took those feelings inside and became angry.  My reaction was one of the ego.  I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, that I was being lazy if I complained that I couldn’t do this karma yoga.  Round bodies are always perceived of as being lazy.  Internalizing anger only hurts myself, and these feelings are a reflection of how I really feel about myself. 


At the Madam (temple) on Sunday Amma asked me when I would be putting on a saree.  I told her I don’t know.  Actually, she asked if I would put on a saree before the six-month course was over.  She preempted this with complimenting me on my salwar (good tactic).  It was a new one I hadn’t worn before.  I thanked her but I can tell that she’s making a point of complimenting me.  I went on to tell her that my mom used to say that I was too chubby to wear dresses, and how I never wear dresses as this is always in the back of my mind.  She commented sarcastically on how nice it was of my mother to say that!  Amma said that I should take my time.  I didn’t tell her that I have never worn clothing that shows my mid section.  The truth is that I don’t feel very good wearing the salwar kamises either.  First of all they are hot, and it reminds me of a frumpy large t-shirt that fat people try to hide themselves under.  The string pants are even worse.  However it is the dress here and I need to wear it.


Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

Yesterday Ananda started talking about detachment while talking about Shiva.  Intellectually I understand the concept, however practically how does one implement it?  He was saying that to care about something or someone is to be attached.  I understand this for individual people however how about caring about nature or a whole population of people?  How could MSF do its job if noone cared?  I didn’t get an adequate answer. 


Sunday, October 24th, 2004

Today is the last day of a 5-day cleansing process.  Thursday, our day off, was the first day of this cleansing process.  On Thursday I went to Nilgiri’s and bought 3 bags of chips, as they are my comfort food.  They were in a bag beside my bed.  Throughout the 5 day cleanse I craved to eat these chips, but I resisted as I knew that the cravings were coming from a place of fear.  Today however I ate some chips and I feel horrible about it.  I really couldn’t control myself once I started eating them. I should be encouraged by the fact that I lost 5 kilos in the last five days, which seems incredible to me.  However this isn’t 5 kilos of fat most of it is the elimination of toxins.  Two people commented that the hump on the back of my neck has been reduced, which encourages me to try this cleansing at home after the course is over.  On the fourth day you do a coffee enema to remove the rest of the gunk, but I didn’t do it.  This whole process has stirred up a lot of emotions.  It has brought me back to my anorexic days, which was the saddest period of my life.  Two other very low points were my first year of university (a creative spirit in a marketing program, with no guidance as to what I should be doing), and my time in Montreal when I was unemployed, depressed and gained a lot of weight (over 200 pounds).


Monday, October 25th, 2004

Both Devasena and Claudia have told me that I have lost weight and that it shows in my face.  This is encouraging, however I continue to eat chips in my room, but I am not binging.  Even if it is fatty foods, I am trying to eat consciously.  Last night at Satsang, Amma emphasized how important it is to stay away from processed foods, nuts, cheese, and dark bread… after a fast as it might upset digestion.  However if my digestive tract is upset from eating chips I do not feel it.  Today is the first day back to regular meals and everyone’s spirits are up.  I feel particularly good today; this heaviness I have been feeling lately has lifted somewhat.  I guess that knowing that my body is balancing out is helping me.  I can only guess what kind of shape I will be in by the end of March.  I hope that Hariharan doesn’t weigh us too often, as I don’t want to rely on a scale to measure how I change.  I want to consciously feel the changes in myself.  Today in Pranayama class we did Moksha Kriya and I cried.   Maybe this is why I feel better today.  I guess its never just one thing. 


Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

A realization came to me… that the feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and loneliness… have a weight.  Anorexia is a way to reduce your body to nothing.  It is a direct consequence of the emptiness one feels.  Paradoxically it is also a way to unconsciously remove that burden of psychic heaviness.  But of course this method doesn’t work.  I think that people fall into eating disorders because they don’t have any other tools to deal with their emotions.  Had my artistic sensibility not been squashed as a young child, things probably would have turned out differently. 


I discovered the radio and pop music when I was 12 years old.  As a teenager I always had the radio on and I always tried to call CKOC station when they were giving tickets away for concerts, movies or musicals.  I remember once that I won tickets to see the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.  My mom didn’t want to go with me and I was too young to go on my own.  I was heartbroken when I had to give the tickets away.  I felt so crushed that in all the years since, I have never gone to see that musical.  I also remembered that I didn’t feel like the other kids at school because I never wanted anything for Christmas or my birthday.  I never asked for anything and I usually didn’t get much more than that.  Was this a direct consequence of feeling empty and worthless?


Saturday, October 30th, 2004

Yesterday I was totally annoyed.  I was asking Hariharan a question about the Hathenas and like usual he didn’t know so he turned around and half asked the question to Nalini, the first bell for Mantra class rang and she gestured that it was now mouna.  I appreciate the importance of mouna but I thought it was rude of Nalini to react the way she did.  It would have taken a minute to answer my question.  Later, after Mantra class, when there is supposed to be mouna, I saw Nalini talking to Kumar.  Isn’t this hypocritical?  However, this isn’t the real problem here.  I think that I was so irritated because as a child I was always told to sit still and be quiet.  I had no siblings to fight or play with, I was alone with my mom a lot and my artistic endeavors were always squashed.  The lack of self-expression is the reason why I have been dragging this psychic bag of garbage around for so long.  However since studying fine arts at University, this bag has been getting lighter.  And now that I am consciously on the spiritual path, the bag has been getting lighter at a quicker pace.  I have no problem with mouna as such.  If anything I have been too quiet and too alone too much of the time.   I understand why we practice mouna in an Ashram, however I still react negatively when people tell me to be quiet.  Today at the beginning of Pranayama class it was raining so hard, that Nalini had to practically scream to be heard.  This made me smile, as it was as if Mother Nature was agreeing with my need for self-expression. 


Sunday, November 14th, 2004

It was interesting to watch the participants at the Yoga Competition.  I observed that when the participant was concentrated and doing the Asana with awareness, the posture was much more beautiful, even if he/she wasn’t able to do the posture perfectly.  Most participants rushed into their postures.  This one big Indian kid in the 16-21 age category particularly impressed me.  He was huge with rolls of fat on his back, abdomen and sagging chest, however his postures were beautifully performed and his flexibility was amazing.  I guess there’s hope for all of us.  In Dhanur Asana his head was touching the back of his legs, his legs were straight up and he was grabbing his shins.  That deserved a 10+.  I was in complete awe, especially of his ability to easily put this leg behind his head and then gracefully push it down his back, then stand up fairly straight.  Yikes, my body hurts just looking at him.  I was also impressed by how easily all the kids could do Padmasana, but of course, they have no flesh on their thighs and calves to get in the way.


At lunch we had a very nice spicy meal on Banana leaves.  Most people overate.  I am happy that I am not overeating.  I ate everything on my leaf and was satisfied.  I didn’t have any second servings.  People have been telling me that I don’t eat enough.  It is not because I eat less than everyone else that I don’t eat enough.  I don’t deprive myself.  I am watching what I eat as a lot of the food is very starchy, especially at lunchtime.  Although I would love to eat chapati every day, I know that I shouldn’t. So I take care not to, but when it is raining and I am feeling a bit cold, then I will have 2.  I try to judge what I need as opposed to what I want or like.  I do still eat chips sometimes, but certainly not every day like I used to.  I hope that this is a habit that I will be able to get rid of before I go back home. 


Sunday, November 21st, 2004

Today is Edith’s birthday.  At lunch, Edith came with a box of freshly made Indian sweets that made everyone happy.  Many were very tasty and not too sweet because there were nuts in the mixture.  I still can’t eat a lot of it, as I feel the phlegm in my throat pretty much right away.  However since it was a birthday, I like to share in the sharing.  This is part of contentment, Santocha, isn’t it?


Today at the Madam, Amma mentioned that I looked like I was doing very well, that prana was flowing, that I was smiling and laughing.  I told her that I feel good, that I am letting things go and not worrying about where they come from. She said that this is the mistake that psychologists make; they go through the garbage, identify, label and store it.  While in Yoga when we see garbage, we just throw it out.  I am feeling lighter and well and happy.  An AHA moment happened last week when Amma said, If there is an accident and you ask 10 witnesses what they saw, chances are that you will get 10 different answers.  So if our perceptions are flawed, aren’t our memories also flawed?  Then why do we choose to hold onto them?  And the negative emotions that go along with them?  Amma gave me a hug (I guess that she feels that I need it).  She thanked me for laughing and understanding Divya Priya.  She smelled something burning and it was my dupatta that had brushed up against a small candle that was mistakenly put on the ledge.  Amma and I laughed that I was burning up karma, and then I ran to put it out.


Sunday, December 5th, 2004

I wish that I had more time to write more often, but there’s just so much to do and everything is so interesting.  I don’t want to waste a minute.  I have woken up with a sore throat the last couple of days, and last night I was coughing quite a bit.  I know that I am not sick but that I am cleansing.  I know that this is related to the sensitivity I have been feeling in my head lately.  Two weeks ago, I had a lump under my arm, in my lymph node.  That has never happened to me before as far as I am aware of.  At first I was worried because the first thing that comes to mind is breast cancer.  In a few days the swelling started to go down, but then there was a second lump about an inch below the first one.  I was shocked, but what could I do except drink lots of water and the Yoga practice I have been doing?  Now both lumps are gone.  I don’t know if this is the worse of the cleansing or if there is more to come.  Something tells me that it needs to get worse before it gets better.  Isn’t it often like this?


Amma said a very nice thing to me today at the Madam.  She said that one morning in Hatha Yoga class that she looked at me and that I looked childlike and she had an intense love for me as if I were a child.  She said that she had never experienced that before.  This was a very profound thing she said to me and it was quite unexpected.  This morning Helena asked to take a photo of me, and she said that in the camera I looked like such a kid.  Amma also told me that she appreciated me (while she was rubbing my arms) and that she notices the little things, like not arguing with Robert in Satsang when he thinks he is right about something.  I am a peacemaker, I don’t argue with people who aren’t open to listen to other people’s views.  Some may view this as a weakness but I don’t.  I replied to Amma that I appreciated her because she is continuing the six-month course even when she doesn’t have to.  We parted with a hug, a strong bear hug, Canadian style.  I thought her to be very sweet at that moment.


Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

It has been a while since I have written but a lot has happened and we have been so busy that there isn’t much time to write.  Briefly, I should let you know that for a whole week, I was really sick.  The pressure in my head has been accumulating for some time, and for a few days, my voice was getting groggy and it felt like the beginning of a cold.  By Monday December 6th, I was not able to do many asanas or pranayamas because my head and sinuses were so clogged.  When Archana hugged me in Pranayama class because she saw that I was not well, tears flowed down my cheeks.  My head and body were aching and I couldn’t breathe.  Julia then hugged me like a mother would.  They were both very sweet.  By the time Anatomy Class came around I pretty much collapsed.  By the end of class I had a high fever.  Archana was shocked when she touched my neck.  I didn’t have lunch or supper.  I basically stayed in bed under the fan every moment that I could.  Nalini gave me some Ibuprofen tablets and as she gave them to me she said ‘It would be nice to stay in bed all day, but you need to go to class, so take these so that you’ll be able to survive’.  At first I didn’t understand why she was saying this to me.  First of all I never thought about not going to class.  I remember when I was a kid and got the measles, I asked to go to school everyday.  And everyday for a week I cried when my mom said that I couldn’t go.  I have always loved to learn. Afterwards, I felt angry by her insinuation.  Amma said that she was just doing her job.  Well, instead of thinking the worst of me, it would have been nice for her to have positive thoughts to lift me up instead.  Thoughts do have a power.  Other students might have reacted in a certain way in the past, but I’m not them.  Tuesday was the worst day for me.  My head hurt whether I was lying down on my back, my tummy or my sides.  I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep.  I brought my pillow to class because I couldn’t lay my head directly on the mat.  No matter what I did, everything hurt.  People were very nice to me.   Although everyday I felt a bit better, it seemed like I was stepping 2 steps forwards and 1 step back.  I felt better, then worse again, but not as worse as the day before.  During that week, I cried a lot, especially during morning Arati, Mantra class and Satsang.  I had a full-blown cold, a lot of mucus and my voice was awful.  I was a real mess.  I was tired of everyone asking me how I felt.  All I could say was ‘better than yesterday’.  I hadn’t been this sick since I was 8 years old, before my tonsils were taken out.  I know for sure that this event was one of emotional cleansing.  The catalyst was seeing the very badly playing violinist at Kambly Swami Madam, and how sad he was the first Sunday we saw him.  I was completely touched to see Ananda gently console him by putting one of his hands on his shoulder and the other one on his knee.  Somehow this brought out the sadness that was stagnant in me. 


When we talked about satyam in Satsang, it was made clear that we should say what we think and do what we say otherwise there is a conflict.  Another conflict that might arise is between the emotions and the mind.  Instead of acknowledging and feeling the emotions, the mind buries them deep within the body.  There is a physical space behind the heart where emotions get stuck.  It is not surprising that my head was completely blocked, and that crying was a way to release the pressure from the psychic valve that goes from the heart to the head.  It took a good week to feel normal again.  It was nice to hear Jnana say that she missed my laugh.  In the morning Amma put the ash on my forehead and gently touched the side of my face, sometimes only staying in the pranayama kosha.  Her gentleness touched me deeply.  One morning Kumar said:  ‘Jenny, I can tell that you are feeling better, you are starting to glow again.’  His comment made me laugh.


Saturday, December 25th, 2004

We spent the day at the City Center, watching the kids during the ‘Best Youth Yoga Competition’ that is held every year.  At lunch, as we were all sitting on the floor, we were thoroughly entertained by Divya.  Amma was sitting beside me and we had a nice conversation. 


Sunday, December 26th, 2004

A few years ago, the villagers asked that the government install granite boulders along the beach, like they did at the beach in Pondicherry because the coastal area has cyclones, and they wanted some protection.  Although granite boulders wouldn’t have saved them from the tidal wave but they don’t realize that.  Because the government made promises and didn’t keep them, the villagers became very angry and after destroying a bus, the anger spread like fire.  We could hear the fighting and yelling and despair from inside the Ashram.  All we could do was be quiet, sit still, be grateful that we were safe, and pray that the situation would calm down.  We were strictly forbidden to leave the Ashram or open the door.  Clearly the situation was a dangerous one, the uncontrolled animal nature was in the forefront.  I had never experienced this before.  The women were wailing, like I have never heard in my life because children and loved ones couldn’t be found.  The tidal wave hit the area at around 9:15am local time, and none of us went to the beach this morning.  With the guru’s grace, and with sadhana, this area is protected.  We all have our guardian angels protecting us.  I can honestly say that this will be a Christmas to remember.  The lesson learned is that we need to appreciate every moment and truly be grateful for what we have.  Also, we need to pay more attention to what we are doing to Mother Earth.  Her grumblings of discontent are getting louder but are we listening?  The sky is grey and heavy; Mother Nature is mourning also.  Pray that there will be no rain, as rain is the last thing these people need right now.  But what the villagers have which we grossly lack in the West is that ability to adapt.  I admire that very much.  They might be low on the consciousness scale, but there is something that we can learn from every being. 


Monday, December 27th, 2004

Swami Gitananda left his body on the full moon, so there’s always a celebration in his honor on the full moon of the last month.  The full moon has power over water, and it is no coincidence that the tsunami and the resulting tidal waves happened on a full moon.  Although I intellectually understand that no matter what happens in the world, sadhana must continue, and that Guru Purnima needs to be done on this day, my heart was telling me different.  It didn’t feel right to be getting dressed up for an evening out after so many people had lost their homes.  We had to walk to the main road to get the bus and on our way back we saw so many people sleeping on the road by the Ashram.  Somehow it just didn’t seem right, there was so much space at the Ashram itself that could have provided shelter for them.  It is hard to be detached isn’t it?


Saturday, January 1st, 2005

For the first time since being in the Ashram, I have eaten a meal in town.  I had a dosa at the Indian coffee house.  It was good but the meals at the Ashram are better. 


Doing Hatha Yoga class again in a group was nice, having stopped for a week really makes you appreciate that regularity, repetition and rhythm in any practice are very important.  It also made me realize how easy it is to fall out of a practice, but of course I have had that experience before.  We all received a copy of the state Tamil paper because our photo was taken during the judging of the art competition at the City Center.  At looking at this picture that was taken on December 25th, 2004, how could we have known that less than 24 hours later, tragedy would hit the world?  All that we really have is the here and now, the rest is just illusion, because there is no real way to know what will happen.  I like the saying that Amma told us at satsang; the past is a memory, the future is a mystery but the present is a gift.


Hariharan weighed everyone today for his study project.  Disappointedly, since the water cleansing at the end of October I have only lost 2 kilos.  Although I know that my body is changing.  I need to remember that muscle mass weighs more than fat.  My waist has changed from 44” to 36 1/2” inches which is quite significant so I shouldn’t feel too disappointed.  This is the danger with scales.










































Monday, January 3rd, 2005

Amma said that when a crises occurs the best thing to do is to get back into a regular routine.  On the one hand to avoid mass panic I can see that this is necessary.  However, if the crisis is put out of our minds too quickly and we go back to the way we were, will we have learned anything from the incident?  And changed ourselves accordingly?  If the lesson hasn’t been learned then won’t another incident happen until that lesson is learned?  It will be interesting to see if the world has learned anything from the tsunami.  Considering that the effects were felt mainly in Asia, will the West and its consumer culture see the need to change to a middle path?  To being more gentle to Mother Earth?  To live a life that is more natural?  More integrated with nature?  To treat the earth and its resources as sacred and not to waste?  Try not to manipulate Her in unnatural ways with our science and technology?  Last Sunday, Mother Nature grumbled with discontent, but were we listening?  The East who looks at the prosperity of the West with envy, should they not revert back to the traditional ways before it is too late?  And be the inspiration and role model for the West?


Although I thoroughly enjoyed being at the Madam (the energy is uplifted since Guru Purnima last Sunday) and the Yoga Competition at the City Center, at the end of the day I came back to the Ashram in a bad mood.  Davor, Claudia and I shared a rickshaw today.  Davor doesn’t enjoy our company (does he enjoy anyone’s company?), but he enjoys sharing the costs of the rickshaw.  On our way back to the Ashram, Davor asked the driver to stop several times for his personal purchases, each time without asking Claudia or I if we minded stopping (which of course we wouldn’t have minded).  But then when Claudia wanted to stop to do some photocopies, he suggested that she do it on Thursday, on her day off.  I don’t know why I am still shocked by his thoughtlessness and selfishness.  After 4 months of being tolerant, I had had enough.  I got angry and said to Davor to be reasonable, and to let Claudia take the time she needs to do her copies, that it would only take 5 minutes anyways.  After all we waited more than that for him without complaint.  The truth is that I neither like nor dislike Davor.  Although I dislike his behaviour and find him unlikable.  He is not the type of person I would want in my Satsang at home.  No thanks!  I am disappointed by my feelings of anger; this belongs to me and has nothing to do with Davor.  In the end it only hurts myself.  It has been a while since I have felt this way, and I don’t like it.


Saturday, January 8th, 2005

The chairperson was soft spoken and bragged about the 6 PhD’s he has, and that he still experiences stress after 25 years of studies.  I say go out in the real world and really learn something.  Honestly what’s the point of 6 degrees other than to have many initials after your name?  Indians put a lot of emphasis on the prestige of this; it is all about appearance, about ego.  Having 6 degrees doesn’t actually mean that you know much.  What I didn’t know is that they were evaluating our speeches at the conference and that they had two awards to give out, one for each part of the conference: Yoga and Education.  I was surprised to hear my name announced.  But l was pleased, because I did put a lot of work into my speech.  I think that it shows that I am passionate about MSF and that I love to speak about their work.  Although I don’t actually think that I am that great of a speech giver; there is a lot of room for improvement.  I like to think of myself as multi-facetted; I know that I do a lot of things well, but I don’t think that I really excel at any one thing.  The people at work will get a hoot over the fact that I won a prize of 500Rs.


Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

I saw the saddest thing today and it shook me up quite a bit.  While walking to the Internet, on the dirt road, I saw 4 dogs attack a goat.  It wasn’t a very small one either.  The dogs were gnarling and then one went after the jugular.  I suddenly felt afraid that they would come and attack me.  Again, there’s that primordial emotion of fear.  They ran down the path towards me, I presume after the goat’s owner chased them or threw stones at them.  I kind of just stood there hoping that the dogs would run by me, which they did, but then they stopped a few meters ahead of me and started fighting with each other.  These dogs are not anyone’s pets.  At that moment, Hariharan came by on his bike; we then went together up the side path by the temple to the main road.  He gestured that I should get on his bike, but after a few meters with the dogs behind me, I gestured to him to go ahead.  I was OK, the fear was gone.


Friday, January 14th, 2005

Today is officially Pongal, a yearly celebration to give thanks to the earth and sun in particular, a gesture of reverence to Mother Nature.  This time of year is not only the first month of the Tamil calendar.  It is also harvest time and so the villagers show gratitude for another year of sustenance.  This whole month has been a time of celebration, with music starting from early morning to evening.  In the beginning it was quite unbearable as it was too loud, the sound was so distorted that it was basically just noise, and the unbearability multiplied as the number of loud speakers multiplied.  However, since the tsunami, there’s only one loud speaker and the level of sound is bearable and acceptable.  You can’t and shouldn’t prevent the villagers from celebrating traditional festivals, however you would hope that they would be somewhat sensitive to others.  Amma said that when she first came to this village 30 years ago it was much, much worse.  Somehow I have a really hard time imagining it.  Yesterday morning, we did our Hatha Yoga class in the Pranayama hut because there was too much smoke.  Looking down from the terrace we could see many fires burning down the road/path to the beach.  Some of them were quite big.  Apparently it is traditional for the villagers to burn old things at this time of year, as it is a symbol of renewal.  Amma said that in the past, the fires were never so big, and that the smoke didn’t usually cause a problem.  However this year, because of the tsunami, people had more things to burn: drenched stinky mats, clothes etc.  It was nice to see the road lit like that at 5:30am when it was still dark, although the nauseous smell of toxic burning plastics was overwhelming.  On my way into town I saw piles of sugar cane, I had never seen this before, and didn’t realize that the skin was dark purple.  Sri Lalita Sundari is represented with sugarcane, so there must be some spiritual significance.  When I asked Amma, she said that is was a symbol for kundalini energy as it looks like a spinal column.  Sugar cane is also flexible like the spine.  Sugar cane is sweet however you need to chew it to get to the sweet.  If sweetness is a symbol for amrit, then tapas and overcoming obstacles is the way to get it.  The sweet nectar that comes from sugar cane doesn’t come easily; you need to put in effort to get it.  The sweet nectar, or kundalini energy, is what is flowing up the column, and the leaves on top are like an explosion of energy going upwards, as it should be represented in the Sahasrara Chakra.


Saturday, January 15th, 2005

Nalini took our breath measurements today.  I increased slightly in the abdominal section, but what was really surprising was my mid and upper sections, they are both up to 6 inches.  Nalini says that this increase of over an inch is the result of opening up emotionally. I knew that being really sick with obstructed breathing for a week in December was an emotional cleansing.  The increase in my breath capacity really proves it to me, as the heart is the seat of emotions.  I am so happy about this.  According to Nalini’s measurements, in the last six weeks, I also reduced in girth by two inches in the mid and upper chest.  This is hard for me to believe because the girth of the abdomen remained the same.


Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

I didn’t go to the Internet this afternoon, instead I stayed at the Ashram to rest.  We have been doing a lot of hala asanas, karna peedas and sarvangasanas lately, and today we did the eka and dwi janu shirsha sarvanga asana.  These postures really restrict my breathing.  While doing Danda and Purvottana asanas I felt dizzy.  In the postures that are part of the shoulderstand series, blood rushes to the head and then rushes out just as fast when you come out of them.  Because of my weight, there is more pressure on my upper torso and head.  It requires great effort on my part to hold these postures.  To avoid dizziness, I think that I need to relax more in Shavasana, to let my systems readjust, before I sit up for Danda Asana.  Because my breath is so shallow, so restricted I may not be getting enough oxygen to the brain.  Today the workers were pounding on the rooftop above my room, and the only day I left some books and things on the bed, is the day that lots of dirt came flying through the window.  Murphy’s law.  I am really anxious for this construction to be done, two months of tapas is enough!  I had planned to have breakfast tomorrow with a bunch of the girls, but Hariharan told me after mantra class that I needed to go back to the registration for my visa extension.  URGH!!  I need to counteract my negativity about this never-ending paperwork with counting my blessings… I do have so many…


Friday, January 21st, 2005

Archana asked me today if I had any other health problems, other than excess mucus, as Amma puts the ash on my forehead everyday.  I explained to her that she’s been doing this since I have been sick in December, probably because she knows that the emotional cleansing isn’t over, that there’s more to come.  Today the sky is grey and it’s windy.  I think that we have a storm coming our way.  It has been interesting to see the display of grey clouds, forming and dissipating in the sky in the morning when we do Hatha Yoga practice.  It is a child’s game to make out shapes and watch the clouds dance, so I must be a child then.  For the last two days Jana has been coughing she’s got a bit of a cold, so in Hatha and Pranayama class today I gave her one of my cough drops.  Towards the end of the Pranayama class, there were two lovely pink flowers on my mat.  Sweet Jana gave them to me; she plucked them during the break while I laid in Shavasana, enjoying my relaxation, despite the kerosene smell coming from the painters.  In the morning, I noticed how loud the crashing of the waves were.  The sea of Bengal was churning.  The waves that once brought pleasure are now sad, and to hear them cry makes me sad too.


Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

Today walking back from the Internet, I took the dirt road a bit further from the main road.  There was a cart full of straw that was dumped onto the road, which was then being rolled into balls and bought into a backyard.  In the West, we have a machine that makes bails.  It was a different site; the smell was fresh and nice.  After most of the straw had been picked up, I walked through it.  AAHH.  FRESH.  AAHH.  PRANA  AAHH.


Tuesday January 25th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 1:  The left nostril is almost completely blocked.  During the practice the right ear blocked.  After the practice I was breathing 20% from the left nostril and 80% from the right nostril.


For the past two days, I have been waking up at around 1am, not able to fall back asleep.  This afternoon, I really could have taken a nap but the workers are making so much noise on the roof above my room, constructing the new rooms… it is quite impossible to do anything, and there’s no place for me to go to get some peace and quiet.  I think that the reason I couldn’t sleep is because of the energy I got from the homa on Sunday.  Regardless of what anyone says, homas, or fire rituals are powerful, even if you don’t understand the meaning of what is going on.  As a symbol, fire in itself has many meanings:  tapas, austerities, burning of karma, burning of toxins, burning away of the ego to realize the Self.  This is why swamis wear orange.  During homas, they only burn medicinal wood, which is very purifying when you inhale it.  And during a Homa you have no choice but to inhale it.  In the evening, I spent some time on the rooftop gazing at the sky.  It always amazes me how bright the moon is here.  I never notice the moon in Toronto.  With all the light pollution, smog and cloudy nights, there isn’t much to see, although the moon does shine as bright on the other side of the earth’s hemisphere.  It is kind of like the state of our mind, its cloudy and we don’t see reality properly.  Our essence is brightness even though our perception is flawed, which is caused by so many things.


Wednesday January 26th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 2:  The right ear blocked during the practice.  Afterwards I was breathing 90% from the left nostril and 10% from the right nostril.


Thursday January 27th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 3:  The right ear blocked during the practice.  Afterwards I was breathing 60% from the left nostril and 40% from the right nostril.


Tonight during chanting class, Divya tried to write on Karpagam with a pen, even after we told her not to do it.  The dog got angry, growled, turned around and snapped its teeth at her.  Robert was quick to react, but had the dog wanted to bite her, the dog could have easily done so.  Devasena calmly came to Divya, slapped the dog on its head to show it that it had done something bad, then grabbed Divya’s ear and scolded her.  I have never seen Devasena act this way before.  Divya was afraid of the dog when it growled, and sulked as she was being scolded.  The dog had already left with its head down and tail in between its legs.  Then Divya managed to grab a piece of chalk and the chalk eraser.  She went around marking the floor and then erasing it.  We all giggled when she started erasing her body.  She is 1 ½ and already she knows that she is not the body. 


Friday January 28th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 4:  During the practice, the right ear blocked and then popped. On the previous days it felt like the pressure was rubbing against the blockage, now it was hitting it head on, like a hammer to a nail.  With each forceful breath, I noticed that the left nostril was getting more and more obstructed.  After the practice I was breathing 30% from the left nostril and 70% from the right nostril.


I woke up with thoughts of vomiting.  I ate a small portion of noodles in the morning.  I didn’t eat lunch or diner as the noodles didn’t digest at all and it is unusual for me not to digest my food.  I was burping up noodles all day. Yuck!  I wanted to rest in the afternoon, but was interrupted at least 5 times.  I really felt like putting a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign on my door.  What didn’t help was that the Ashram was painting with paint that was kerosene based.  The smell permeated everywhere and was making me very nauseous.  Why is the Ashram using such harmful chemical paint?  Have we learned nothing from the tsunami? 


It is interesting to note that today is the first day that the unbearable banging noise of the construction stopped… and I don’t feel well.  Is there a connection?  What a tapas these last two months have been!  Has my body been waiting to relax to release its toxins?   Had there been no constant banging and constant noise would I have released these toxins sooner?  By the evening, I felt extremely light headed, had a fever and loose bowels.  My stomach was cramping and very sore, I haven’t had one of those in a very, very long time.  In satsang, during the bhajans, I silently cried, I just couldn’t help myself.


Saturday January 29th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 5:  During the practice, the right and left ears blocked alternatively.  Afterwards I was breathing 30% from the left nostril and 70% from the right nostril. 


Something major has left me.  I could feel the spasms in my colon and my other organs poking me from the inside, letting me know that they are there.  Several times I felt a contraction from my abdomen that shot straight down to my anus, and I could feel something rub against the anal muscles as it left me.  It was not gas as there was no physical emanation, and gas doesn’t move straight down like that.  I don’t know what I released, if this is what is referred to as sabija karma.  Whatever had a grip on me, when gone, everything else became loose.  The physical release was tremendous, like during the water cleanse.   I am not afraid because I know that this is the second part of my emotional cleansing, actually it’s the third if you consider the water cleanse that we did in October.  I didn’t do much Hatha Yoga or Pranayama, only jattis at the beginning of classes as I am feeling very, very tired.  I had a slight fever in the morning and ate only fruit during the day.   I feel like I am in a complete state of nara.  I am spilling food while serving, dropped a piece of melon that was in my plate, almost slipped and fell in the laundry room.


Sunday January 30th, 2005

Anu Nasika – Day 6:  During the practice, both ears blocked alternately.  Afterwards, I was breathing 45% from the left nostril and 55% from the right nostril. 


I didn’t go to the Madam today, as I desperately needed some quiet and rest as I barely slept all night.  I could tell that Nalini wasn’t happy with me not going, but honestly I just couldn’t.  I don’t complain much about things, but sometimes you just need to take care of yourself, treat yourself with gentle kindness even if that means not doing what is expected of you.  One needs to use their discrimination to know when to push and when to let go.  This is a lesson that I am still learning.  Nalini said that I looked shiny and bright but I sure don’t feel like that.  She is seeing something that I can’t yet feel.


I have been feeling dizzy all day.  I had my head to the pillow every moment I could.  During OM chanting at Satsang, I surprisingly was able to do more than 2 garshanas.  The energy of the group definitely helped me keep going.  I felt it strongly.  Doing things as a group definitely has a power and I will need to keep that in mind when I go back home.  My tendency is to want to do everything myself, a conditioning I got from my mother.  She was so independent and proud that she could not ever accept anything from anyone, not even a sincere act of generosity.  This goes against the Niyamas, particularly santosha or contentment and I realize that.  To stay connected, it will be necessary for me to do some group Yoga classes, go to a few satsangs and keep in touch with Amma and Ananda. 


Monday January 31st, 2005

I slept better last night.  I woke up a few times with spasms but I didn’t have to rush to the toilet.   Otherwise I had a restful night, restful if you compare it to the previous few nights.  I did wake up feeling like my left ear was under pressure.  The Anu Nasika is really having an effect.  During Arati, when breathing, I could hear the tympan vibrate in my left ear, kind of like you hear your breath when you have earplugs on, but during Anu Nasika it was my right ear that was blocked.  Isn’t that strange?  During the Pranava Pranayama in Hatha Yoga class, the MMM sound equalized the ear pressure and I could hear equally.  This is not surprising since the MMM sound is an internal sound that affects the head area (particularly vibrates the pituitary gland).  I still wasn’t able to do much in Hatha Yoga and Pranayama classes, but I did do a bit more than yesterday.  Because my head is still in a state of nara, I was forced to do everything more slowly, and therefore with more consciousness.  I had to be gentle with myself.  I had to lift my head and bring it back down slowly with the support of my hands.  When doing Pradakshina Pranayama, I didn’t use the mudras because I didn’t know how much I would be able to do.  I used sparsha mudra on my abdominal area instead.  Consciously bringing healing energy to that area.  Nalini had asked me if I wanted some medicine and I told her no.  As my layers of numbness are leaving me, I strongly feel that I am meant to be feeling everything that is happening.  I am not in excruciating pain, I am however in extreme discomfort but that will pass.  It is already better than it was.  I am not afraid to be feeling all this. 


I can’t believe how sensitive my ears are.  I hear a clicking sound in my ears when I swallow.  The wind from the fan hurts my ear.  The water from the shower hurts my ears.  The loudness of the whooshing sound of the people sitting beside me is unbearably loud.  Doing Gardabha Kriya is impossible, it is just too loud and I need to block my ears. 


Helena told me that I am looking ‘quite fine’ and ‘bright’.  Martina asked me if I knew where all the blockages that are being released are coming from.  To be honest I don’t really care.  If it is garbage I just want to get rid of it.  I am not interested in analyzing.  All I know is that I have been carrying this garbage around for a long time and I am consciously letting it go.  It is not nice going through this, but I am sure that I will feel much better when this is over.  People are noticing a difference in me that I am not yet able to feel in myself. 


I haven’t been feeling 100% lately.  Actually I call it emotional cleansing part 2, but it is much different from the first time.  This time I don’t have a cold or mucus but I am having tummy problems.  I have been only drinking coconut water for the last few days, and rested Sunday morning instead of going to the puja at the Madam.  The sensation in my head is not one of heaviness, like the last time, but gentle pressure on the sides, front and top of the head that makes me feel nauseous and dizzy.  Rahulle, a Buddhist monk who studied with Swamiji 30 years ago in Sri Lanka, has been here for a few days and he gave satsang on Saturday.  It was nice, however I was not able to enjoy it fully because I wasn’t feeling too well.  I tried to sit up as long as I could but eventually I had to lie down.  Unfortunately, I found Rahulle a bit dull.  He doesn’t have much expression, but I find that a lot of people who practice meditation seriously are like this.  Controlling one’s emotions doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t show emotion, however it should be done in the right way, at the right time, and in the right circumstances.  One thing that was very cool was that today after lunch he showed the formal going out and the casual way a Buddhist monk wraps the cloth around them.  I couldn’t begin to explain it other than it is more complicated then putting on a saree.  For the formal dress, the end of the cloth is rolled up and turned around the left arm; this is to restrain the monk’s action, so that he can’t get too wild in public.


When Dr. Ananda saw me today he asked me how I was and patted me on the arm.  Certainly Amma told him about my reaction/cleansing of the past few days.  Jana has had a high fever for two days, and both Archana and Claudia mustn’t be feeling well as they didn’t do Hatha Yoga in the morning, and many more have or have recently had cold/cough/mucus.  At Amma’s request, Ananda won’t be continuing with Mantra Laya until after the Yantra Course, because apparently it is intensive and Amma doesn’t want people to be too down before the course starts.  On a positive note, the skin irritation under my arms has almost completely cleared away. 


Tuesday February 1st, 2005

During Arati, when breathing, I could hear the tympan of my left ear vibrate, the same as yesterday.  During Sahita Pranayama the same thing happened in my right ear.  I could only do 3 rounds of Sahita Pranayama because I felt extremely lightheaded.  I had to lie down for most of the Hatha Yoga class.  I became extremely sensitive to the fact that the head moves a lot when you rotate the arms at the shoulders.  I could barely do it.  The arm movement moves the air that puts pressure on my ears, and it actually almost hurt.  Since October, I’ve never been able to shake the head and loosen the jaw.  My head is just too sensitive.  I can guess that I also have physical tension in the face that I need to let go.  It will happen, one step at a time.  Amma came after class to talk to me.  She talked about the power of the digestive group, and how surprised she was that I could do them so well.  For anyone with a round body, the digestive group requires a lot of effort because of the physical aspect of the bending from the abdominal area and the pressure and constriction of the body that is there in many of the postures.  However, the digestive group is very necessary for round bodies.  Although we haven’t done the spinal twist series yet, I would say that the twists are equally as important.  It will be interesting to see how I react to that series when we get to it.  The digestive group is the most uncomfortable of all the postures for a round body but it really brings consciousness to the body and the layers that have been put upon it.  The good is not always the pleasant.  Amma said that it was almost frightening how my body has changed, but that I am looking brighter.  However I am not so conscious of how I am changing on the outside, other than noticing that my clothes are a bit looser.  I tried to explain to Amma the sensation that is in my head.  That I feel it as much on the outside as I do from the inside.  That it is a complete unbalanced feeling.  I found it strange that Amma asked me how my moods were.  I am feeling low but I don’t think that I have been in bad moods.  The other day she said that it was important for me to keep up my spirit/laugh for the group.  Amma said ‘Do not stop laughing, the group needs it.”  I didn’t realize that I laughed that much, to make a difference.  Amma said that it was frightening how my body is changing. I never thought that I would hear Amma say frightening.  I saw immediately by her expression that she didn’t want to instill fear in me, so she was quick to rephrase with ‘fast’.  I don’t have a pinch of fear in regards to this cleansing.  I am not concentrating on weight or body; it is the internal changes that I am interesting in.  The complete letting go of garbage. Being unkind to oneself does not equal SAT.   As I am learning to treat myself with gentle kindness, I need to let the other stuff, the garbage, be squeezed out of me.  This is why I am feeling all these contractions in my head and internal organs.  However when you change one thing everything changes, is that not a Cosmic Law?  If I consciously concentrate on cleansing, then the body will take care of itself.  I am not worried or frightened as to what will happen, as I have faith in the Yoga process and that the body won’t go too far, too fast, or give me more change then I can handle.  Julia commented that I had nicer and brighter blue eyes.  It is nice to hear such comments, because despite not feeling well, the blockages that are being purified are manifesting as signs of wellness. 


I thought that Nalini made an incredibly insensitive comment today in Pranayama class.  She said that what we learn from here until the end depends on us.  That our actions have an effect on the group.  I agree with this, as long as they are inappropriate actions that we choose to do.  Nalini said that now we need to backtrack because many aren’t well, and that Mantra Laya has practically been cancelled for the same reason (in truth we are only missing two classes, I think that ‘practically cancelled’ is a big exaggeration).  Her comment sounded more like a complaint on her part.  However, cleansing is part of the reason why we are here isn’t it?  Yes we are responsible because this is happening because of our past actions.  However, isn’t this the appropriate environment to be letting go?  If several are releasing toxins then doesn’t this prove the success of Yoga… that it actually works?  Why suppress that?  Who would deliberately want to feel ‘sick’?  I felt like she was looking at me directly while she made her comments.  I thought it was insensitive and inappropriate the way she approached the subject.  I could sense her look at me during Sukha Purvaka Pranayama.  I opened my eyes and she looked away.  Before we moved on to the Loma Viloma Pranayama, Nalini said to remember to smile.  I did not feel like smiling and surely this is why she was watching me so intently.  My expression must have been revealing how unhappy I felt.  Towards the end of class I felt spasms in my colon, which resulted in a very loose bowel movement after class. Is there a direct association with how I was feeling?  With all the classes that Dr. Ananda has cancelled, doesn’t that have more of a negative effect then any changes required because too many of us are cleansing?  It is interesting to note that we have had more Anatomy lasses cancelled then we’ve actually had.   In Pranayama class, I could feel my body slightly sway from side to side with every blast of air from the fan.  I am feeling very much in nara.  Whether or not anyone else could visually see me, I don’t know.  Maybe it was an expression of my inner unbalanced state, made more unbalanced by my reaction to Nalini’s comment.


Wednesday February 2nd, 2005

During Hatha Yoga class, while having my head down below the heart in Hasta Pada and Padotanna Asana, I could hear the tympan vibrate in both my ears.  This felt very strange.  I could even feel my heart beat.  I was able to do all the asanas.  However I didn’t do the Maha Sauriya Namaskar because there are too many bhastrikas and backbendings which makes me dizzy and the strong guttural HA sound hurts my head.  There is still a lot of sensitivity in my ears.

 

For the first time in days, I actually felt hungry in the morning and I ate 2 dosas with chutney.  At breakfast, Sonya called me skinny if you can believe that.  Jana like a mom said that I have to eat.  I don’t know what she is going on about because I am eating!  Jana said that in the last few days that my body has changed a lot.  Martina said that yesterday she was walking behind me, and that she didn’t recognize me from the back, that my body has changed a lot.  She also commented that my wrists and lower arms are ‘tiny’.  I laughed that one off.  Have you seen the size of Martina’s wrists and arms?  They are half the size of mine.   My body has changed but not as dramatically as everyone perceives it.  Archana made a comment today; she compared my chubby cheeks with Maisie’s.  I knew that everyone was being too dramatic.    Everyone’s reactions including Amma’s are interesting to me.  I was feeling their vibrations of worry.  Their comments are bringing my consciousness to the physical body.  I want to stay on the inside journey.  The rest is a distraction.


In Pranayama class I noticed that I could kick my buttocks from the supine position with the knees up, for the first time since being at the Ashram.  While doing this Nalini said that if you need to punish yourself, kick yourself on the buttocks.  I think that she way trying to make a joke but I didn’t find it funny.  I said out loud that it really isn’t a nice thing to say to yourself. She didn’t reply but she didn’t say it again on the following round.  I am learning to treat myself with kindness, part of this head nara is teaching me this.  I don’t need that kind of negative impressions left on my mind.  I have punished myself enough in my life.  Later, w while doing Pradakshina Pranayama, I did a faster count because holding the breath had a deep effect on my head.  I could really feel the pressure.  I had to stop towards the end because I felt light headed. 


This month I am the Assistant Monitor, and part of my duty is sprouting the mung beans.  Nalini and others were very impressed with the sprouts today.  Nalini said that they were delicious because they were washed consciously.  When sprouting, you are working with subtle energies.  How you treat the sprouts is what you end up eating.  I don’t use a strainer, because I don’t find it nice to thrash the sprouts around from one container to another several times a day.  This is not a kind a loving energy.  Likewise when I let water run from the tap, I bring the bowl very close to the spout and let the water run against the side of the bowl, to reduce the shock of the pressure from the water.  I have given the sprouts some loving attention and there is no doubt that they respond to the energy that is given to them.  Has working with the sprouts helped me to ease my nara?  And at the same time produce beautiful sprouts?  This seems contradictory.  You would think that the sprouts would suffer being manipulated by someone who wasn’t well?  Prana/nature is a wonderful thing isn’t it?  Could it be that I am feeling better today and woke up hungry because of the sprouts?


Thursday February 3rd, 2005

Last night was a full night of OM chanting, a way of celebrating Swami Kanakananda’s birthday.  I stayed in Satsang Hall all night, but only actively participated in 2 hours of chanting.  I am feeling somewhat better this morning, could it be because of the OM chanting?  However there were a few times that I had to cover my ears because some people equate loudness with effectiveness.  There were a few people who were, at times, almost yelling.  I would say that the opposite is true.  The subtler the vibration, then the closer you are getting to your essence.  So chanting a mantra in your mind is more powerful than chanting verbally, which is certainly more powerful than yelling.


Kumar said that I was looking very fine.  My eyes are brighter, my face and body are thinner.  He tells me that people at home will be shocked when they see me.  I replied that they’ll be shocked that this Yoga stuff really works!  Maitreyi arrived today, and she will be with us for the next few weeks.  She commented that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that I am looking good.  It’s funny, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost that much physical weight.  I am sure that Hariharan’s evaluation will show that.  I do admit that my body has changed.  It has changed because of the emotional cleansing. 


After the homa, there was a special meal.  I wanted to eat vaddai, I put a piece in my mouth, chewed it then put it back in plate, I just couldn’t eat.  At lunch I only had coconut water.  Dinner was a special meal for the official start of the Yantra course.  I ate two large vaddais with spicy chutney with half a sandwich.  I should have eaten the fruit salad instead of the two vaddais.  This is an old behavior of wanting fried foods; I see it as the chips and dip syndrome.  I wanted more even if I wasn’t feeling hungry.  It is like the Lay’s Chips commercial.  ‘You can’t just have one.’  Desire for comfort food manifests because of a fear of what exactly?  Perhaps it is a fear of change?  So many people have commented on my body and this has made me too conscious of my physical appearance, and has made me feel uncomfortable. 


Amma mentioned today in Hatha Yoga class that the relationship between the body and mind is like that of a child and parent.  The parent says to the child ‘don’t smoke’ but the child sees the parent smoke.  How can the child trust what the parent says?  In the same way the body says ‘I want to be healthy’ but the mind encourages back habits, wrong lifestyle, foods, attitude...  How can the body trust the mind?  One of the biggest realizations I have had since being here is understanding the importance of Pranayama as a tool to communicate with the subconscious mind.  The conscious mind cannot communicate with the subconscious mind.  Not understanding this leads one from one frustration to the other, one failure to the other which leads one deeper in the samskara of bad habits and wrong lifestyle. 


Friday, February 4th, 2005

In Hatha Yoga class we had to move our mats inside because there was a monsoon type of rainfall.  It only lasted 10 minutes but it was wonderful to listen to the sound of the rain falling.  I took it as a symbol for continued internal cleansing.  I took the opportunity to imagine the water forcefully running through my body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my spine.  It was a very nice jnana kriya that nature created for me.   Today being Friday is our day for Hathenas.  I didn’t do any backbends because I am still feeling unstable and getting dizzy easily.  Even the pressure from Matsyasana was too much for me today. 


Dr. Mumford is an excellent teacher, and there is no doubt that he knows what he is talking about.  But man does he make me dizzy.  Everything about him is unbalanced, including the malas that sway from side to side when he moves around.  His almost constant state of confusion isn’t helping me with my nara.  I sense that the next two weeks will be very long.


Saturday February 5th, 2005

With the Yantra course and the arrival of several new students, there is no mouna in the evenings.  This would be difficult to enforce considering that there are two children amongst us for the next two weeks.  During the Yantra class today it was just too noisy with the kids, and under normal circumstances I have trouble concentrating on Dr. Mumford.  At dinner there was too much talking and activity.  As soon as I finished eating I had to leave to go to my room, but because my room is so close, I still could hear everything.  The next two weeks will be long ones for me I think.  After two months of constant banging over my head, I am still not able to get any peace and quiet. 


During dinner, Alex who was serving said that my face looked thinner.  I take this seriously because for a guy to notice such a thing is a big thing indeed.  Edith mentioned to me that Claudia lost a lot of weight a while ago and she said that for a while, after having lost the weight that she still felt large.  I feel that my clothes are a bit bigger but Edith says that my clothes are a lot bigger and that my body has changed a lot.  However I just don’t feel it the way that people express it to me.


Sunday February 6th, 2005

In the morning, Archana said:  “You are reducing every day, if the people who see you every day notice, imagine when you go back home.” 


At the Madam today, Amma said:  “Watching you change has been awesome, really I am not just saying that!”  I didn’t say anything; we both did Namaskar to each other.  My eyes filled with tears, and when I looked into Amma’s eyes, hers were filled with tears also.  What more was there to say?  Sometimes silence is fullness; there is no need for words.  Afterwards Dr. Ananda came up to me and said,  “I wanted to acknowledge that you are looking well, very fine”.   I am focusing on cleaning out my temple, my inner sanctum, in a positive way.   That is why I am not afraid of the physical changes, not even for a second.   I know with certainty that this positive change is permanent because it has been done in the right way.


Monday February 7th, 2005

Amma’s finger lingered when she put the ash on my forehead.  She was barely touching me.  Was she giving me her energy, reading my thoughts, sensing how I feel? 


Today in Hatha Yoga class, I really felt different doing the Trikona asana.  I was better able to twist, as there is less fat on the sides of my body.  For the first time, when looking at myself in the mirror I noticed that my face was thinner.  However, although my body has changed, I know that I haven’t lost that much weight.  When I look in the mirror there is still fat on my upper arms, thighs, upper chest, and abs.  Asanas can take the body only so far.  The rest will need to be lost with aerobic exercise and resistance training.  A Yogi should remember that although the benefits of asanas are tremendous, they don’t replace exercise altogether.  Especially in this modern lifestyle where most of us lead sedentary lives, working at desks and computers, driving or taking the bus to work.  We hardly even walk anymore. 


Alex and Guatalupe are very loud, in pretty much everything they do.  My hearing has gotten very sensitive in the last two months.  It is actually unbearable for me to listen to the group doing Brahma Mudra in Pranayama class.  Especially Alex and Guatalupe who sit beside me, their screeching assaults my ears, and so I had to plug them.  Why do they insist on being so loud?


Helena made an interesting comment today.  She said that when you fly in an airplane, because it moves so fast, it takes a few days for the pancha koshas to realign themselves.  This makes sense.  Maybe my nara and sensitivity in the head is partly due to the fact that because I have changed so quickly, that the rest of me needs to catch up?


I am feeling much better today although I am still experiencing stomach trouble.  I saw a picture of myself taken by Archana at the beach in October.  I was shocked, I didn’t recognize myself. 


Wednesday February 9th, 2005

Amma was looking at me intently during a special class on Mudras.  I wonder what she saw?


In Satsang, Amma said that good change burns away your karma and sins.  I can add that karma does have a hold onto the body and it does have a weight.  I know this because I have physically felt something major leave me during the first few intense days of cleansing.  What a relief when it was gone.  Another interesting thing that Amma said in Satsang is that Yoga is the art of choosing the right attitude.  How I agree with that.  But sometimes it is just easier to be miserable isn’t it?  But isn’t it more pleasant to be content?


Because of the new guests in the Ashram for the Yantra course, we don’t all fit in Swamiji’s hut, so the Satsang is held outside.  Although it was nice to be outside in the fresh air, to see the moon and the stars on a cloudless night… I had to lie down.  I am becoming very sensitive and I could feel that the terrace is not even.  Being forced to lean more on one side makes me dizzy.  I hope that Amma didn’t take this the wrong way.


Thursday February 10th, 2005

I was the last person to leave after relaxation after Hatha Yoga class.  The people who were serving forgot to keep food for me.  I only arrived a few minutes later than everyone else but all the food was already served.  Since being in the Ashram, this has happened to me many times.  Something that I have noticed being a ‘round body is that the larger you are the more invisible you become to others.  Being served food from someone else's plate as an afterthought annoys me to no end.  It is not about the food itself or the quantity of food.  It is about being forgotten. Obviously those deep-rooted feelings of abandonment that have been there since my childhood (because of growing up in a single parent home) are still there.    In the afternoon I ate some chips.  The relationship between negative feelings and bad food habits are clear.  What could I replace this bad habit with?  Words just aren’t enough.  Anyways words or the conscious mind can’t communicate with the subconscious mind.  Maybe doing something as simple as nispandha asana which Nalini tells us is a way to communicate with the subconscious mind that all is OK would help me overcome this bad habit?  Or does it only work in relation to the nervous system? 


Friday February 11th, 2005

I still can’t do Gardhaba Kriya.  Everyone’s too loud and my ears are too sensitive.  During Brahma Mudra, doing the  EEEE sound, I felt a deep sensation in the frontal lobes.  It was almost painful.  When I put my head up, I saw Nalini looking at me, maybe I was making a prune face?


Saturday February 12th, 2005

My stomach is getting better.  I actually slept through the night.  I had spasms at 3:30/4am but I didn’t have to rush to the toilet.  Maybe now that I’ve slept through most of the night, this tiredness will go away?  Although my stomach is better, I am still not feeling very hungry.  However I am thinking a lot about food.  Martina and I discuss how nice it would be to have a cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and alfalfa sprout bagel sandwich.  Toasted of course.  We are complaining of how tired we are of eating white rice and that awful white sweet bread which is stale half of the time. 


Sunday February 13th, 2005

Today I was in a food crisis.  Archana, Maitreyi and I sinned together.  At Nilgiri’s I bought 6-grain bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and two kinds of cheese and we made ourselves sandwiches in Archana’s room.  Archana went wild by adding ketchup and masala.  We joked that we were practicing for Maitreyi’s next film ‘How to Sin Successfully’.   Although this sinning was actually quite innocent, I did feel like I was doing something that I shouldn’t be doing.  Eating and hiding brings me back to my anorexic days.  All week Martina and I had been talking about cheese sandwiches… what you think and say does come true…so we really need to be careful of our thoughts and words don’t we?  I created this crisis within myself, with my thoughts and words. 


Thursday February 17th, 2005

I woke up in the middle of the night with an itchy dry throat that made me cough.  I had to drink lots of water and soothe my throat with a cough drop.  It was a very strange feeling.  At lunchtime we were served guava and when I ate it, it felt like fire at the back of my throat.  This does not feel like the beginning of a cold.   Can this still be cleansing? 


Tonight was the official end of the Yantra course.  We had a lovely cultural program after the officialities.  Then at about 9pm there was a feast.  I ate more than I usually do in the evening because the food was so good.  However I didn’t overeat.  I did have ice cream, which for a kapha is not the best, but Indian ice cream is the best and I couldn’t resist.


Sunday February 20th, 2005

I have had a sore throat for the past few days.  Today my nose is runny while being partially blocked.  It is annoying but can the sore and dry throat and runny nose still be an effect of Anu Nasika? Or is this payback for the late nights, the feast and eating cheese and ice cream?  Despite this, Archana, Maitreyi and I had another afternoon of cheese sandwiches.  The desire to eat more is there.  I can see that I could easily fall back into bad habits, so I need to watch my thoughts and myself carefully. 


Tuesday February 22nd, 2005

I have been constipated for the last two days.  It is getting hotter and I am probably not drinking enough water.  I wonder if this is the result of eating cheese and ice cream?  I have gotten more sensitive and these things will have more of an impact on my body then they did before.  The thought of the truck drivers’ breakfast comes to mind.  Although I have never eaten like that, I have eaten unconsciously most of my life.  More important than the food is the way I ate the food: sneaking, hiding, and eating late at night.  This is a very good lesson in awareness for me.


In Pranayama class, I had no concentration at all during the polarity kriyas, despite putting in all my effort.  If you are constipated and full of stuff, how can you concentrate?  When you change one thing, everything changes.  This is true as much in the negative sense as in the positive sense.  I am thinking that it would be good for me to do another water cleanse before I leave the Ashram.


Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Today Archana was rude to me.  This isn’t the first time that she has been rude to me, but today I didn’t feel like being around that energy so I got up and left.  She got upset because I left.  However later she came to my room and apologized while handing me a flower.  I accepted and gave her a hug.  The incident was over and already in the past, at least it was in my mind.  We shared a rickshaw into town and when we got out she handed me a letter.  Since my flight back to Canada is from Bombay, she had invited me to stay at her place for a few days.  Basically the letter that she handed me said that she needs at least a few weeks to relax and to absorb what we have learned at the Ashram.  She went on to say that me coming to visit her in Bombay after the course wasn’t such a good idea.  It was obvious to me that she never wanted me to come to visit her in Bombay but then why did she invite me in the first place?  She was waiting for the tiniest reason to give me this letter.  I was disappointed and hurt by Archana’s reaction.  When I feel hurt, I get very sad.


Friday, February 25th, 2005

Last night I dreamed that my ‘father’ was trying to hurt me.  I have had this dream many times before.  Each time the circumstances are different, but the essence is the same, that a person whom I associate with my father, wants to physically harm me, often by choking.  Deep-rooted feelings of abandonment have been there because I grew up in a single parent home.  I have blamed a lot of my problems on the fact that I never had any male role models in my life and that I never had that sense of belonging, of roots, or even a home.  But I understood something today.  Isn’t this dream really a trick that the mind is playing on me?  Blaming my problems on something that is external to myself?  Then nothing really changes does it?  The ego doesn’t want to change.  I have gone through a lot of changes in the last few years, and a lot has happened in the last few months.  Isn’t it the ego that is trying to pull me back down?  It isn’t going to work this time.  Isn’t this dream a representation of how I am harming myself with my negative thoughts and feelings?  That I have been having this negativity towards myself for a long time…and that this is a deep samskara that needs to gradually be replaced with something positive.


Saturday, February 26th, 2005

In Hatha Yoga class I hurt my neck doing the headstand.  I am physically strong enough and able to do the headstand, there is no reason that I should hurt myself.  I can see the direct link with feeling hurt a few days ago by Archana’s letter to me.  When I feel hurt, I get sad.  Sadness is carried in the neck isn’t it?  So it is no coincidence that I hurt my neck today.  Amma is right to say that nothing happens suddenly.


Sunday, February 27th, 2005

Jana asked me several times today ‘Why are you looking so sad?’ so did Hariharan and Martina.  It occurred to me that realizing that I am carrying sorrow in my neck makes me feel that emotion more intensely because it is a release.  To feel it is better than suppressing it within myself, which is what I normally would do?  I didn’t explain myself to them, but I realized that I can’t hide my emotions anymore.  I used to be a pro at it, and it has gotten me into a lot of trouble and kept me down. 


I was watching the dogs today.  Karpagam seems sad a lot of the time.  Maybe I am more sensitive to it because I am feeling sad myself these days.  Gowri on the other hand is always happy.  Gowri gets a lot of affection, but she also gives a lot of affection and kisses.  She knows how to ask for it when she needs it.  Karpagam purposely puts herself in the way, we step or kick her unintentionally then she gets affection and kisses because we feel badly.  Perhaps if she gave a little affection she would get more of it also and she wouldn’t have to hurt herself.  She’s going about it the wrong way and she ends up getting hurt.  Amma is right when she says that if you want more of something, you need to have a bit of that thing to begin with.   But also if you want something you need to ask for it.  This is something that I need to work on because I was brought up to be completely independent, and that asking for what you need is a sign of weakness.  This conditioning is very strong and very wrong.


I am still cleansing.  I still have a dry throat and runny nose but I am drinking lots of water. I have had regular bowel movements for the last few days.  Once I realized why the constipation was there, shortly afterwards it took care of itself.  When the body is trying to tell you something and you listen, then the body doesn’t need to knock you down.  It readjusts itself on its own.


Wednesday March 2nd, 2005

Hariharan took everyone’s weight today for his study project.  Since December, I have only lost 4 kilos.  People were curious to find out how much weight I had lost, and they were surprised when I said 4 kilos, because really that is not a lot.  Both Claudia and Helena gained 7 kilos between October and December and it didn’t show that much so 4 kilos is fairly insignificant.  Claudia said that it looks like I lost 20 kilos.  OK now that’s a big exaggeration.  Sonya said that the actual weight doesn’t matter because I look good.  Robert said if you feel lighter then that’s what is important.  But they’ve all missed the point haven’t they?  If the physical weight hasn’t changed that much, then the question should be ‘what has changed?’  I see the body changes as a side benefit to the internal changes that have happened in the last few months. 


Friday March 4th, 2005

Today while doing the Hang Sah Kriya at the chest level, I noticed that I had crossed my arms.  What was I protecting?  What is it that I am afraid of letting go?  An interesting observation is that the Hang Sah Kriya deals with three parts of the body:  the pelvis, the chest and the head.  When I think of all the cleansing that I have gone through since the beginning, the head, the chest and pelvic areas have been affected in a positive way.  My intuition tells me that I should make an effort to continue doing the Hang Sah Kriya, as there are deeper benefits and cleansings for me to experience.  However for this to happen, there is no escape from doing the polarity kriyas.


Saturday March 5th, 2005

The Bandhas are very difficult for me to do.  We have been doing the Oli Mudras for the last week and they are intensive.  I particularly find the Udiyana Bandha difficult but powerful.  I can’t hold it for very long, but I sense that it is an excellent practice for people with eating disorders.


Monday March 7th, 2005

Lately I have been doing the Bardwaj Asana very consciously, feeling the muscles and spine twist. I have been made very aware of the side muscles from the hips up to the ribs.  I could even feel the intercostal muscles stretching.  It has been a long while since I could feel those muscles.  Later during the Pranava OM, I could feel the lower lobes inflate on the sides and particularly in the back.  I could also feel the beginning of the back mid lobes inflating.  That was an awesome feeling, as I hadn’t experienced that before.   I think that doing the Bandhas is helping me with consciously feeling these movements. 


CONCLUSION:

It has been a very interesting exercise to go back and read my journal entries since the beginning of the course. I realize that I am still a Yoga baby, and very much still at the beginning of this journey of conscious evolution.  I have had many insights along the way and the changes I have experienced have been both intense and subtle.  It is interesting to see that as time passes, the more refined my observations become.  This is a direct result of increased understanding and awareness.  The Yoga path may not be easy or always pleasant, but there is no doubt that it really works.  I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to participate in the six month Yoga Teacher Training Course.  I am grateful to my mother, for the sacrifices she made to bring me into this world.  I am grateful to that energy which is Ganesha who has helped me and who continues to help me push through the obstacles as they present themselves to me.  Finally, I bow my head to the guru, without whom none of the positive changes that I have gone through thus far would have been possible.